• Two Japanese women in their 80s died after they choked on mochi Saturday
  • Four more elderly men and women aged between 88 and 100 were hospitalized for the same reason
  • Suffocation deaths caused by mochi reportedly happen nearly every year, especially among elderly people

Two elderly women died and several other people were hospitalized in Japan after they all choked on traditional rice cakes over the New Year's weekend, officials said.

Six men and women between the ages of 88 and 100 were taken to the hospital Saturday with mochi — or Japanese rice cakes — stuck in their throats, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing the Tokyo Fire Department (TFD).

One of the deceased, aged 88, choked on a rice cake while eating a traditional New Year soup called ozoni at her home in Machida, Tokyo, around 8:30 a.m. that day, according to the outlet. The woman was transported to a hospital, where she later died.

The other deceased person was another woman in her 80s, a report by Japan Today said. The details regarding her death were unclear.

The current conditions of the four other people hospitalized are also unknown.

Choking on mochi, which is traditionally served to celebrate New Year's Day, has become so common that the Tokyo Police Department has a guide on how to help someone who has the treat lodged in their throat, CBS News reported.

Additionally, both the National Police Agency as well as the Fire and Disaster Management Agency urge elderly people before the holidays each year to be careful when eating mochi, as per Japan Today.

The TFD, for its part, has advised elderly people and children to cut the sticky rice cakes into small pieces and to chew the treats carefully, according to NHK.

Authorities have also advised would-be mochi eaters to consume the rice cakes in the presence of other people.

Despite the warnings, suffocation deaths caused by mochi reportedly happen nearly every year, especially among elderly people.

Nine people in Japan died at the start of 2015 after they choked on the sticky rice cakes.

A study found that deaths caused by mochi suffocation accounted for between 9.5% to 13.9% of all foreign body airway obstruction fatalities in Japan.

Another study discovered that out of 52,366 food choking deaths in Japan between 2006 and 2016, the highest numbers of fatalities occurred within the first three days of January.

Representation. A total of six people in Japan aged between 88 and 100 were hospitalized on New Year's Day after they all ended up having their throats clogged by mochi. Pixabay